Registration for People’s Majlis vote to open on February 18

The Elections Commission (EC) will open up voter registration for the People’s Majlis elections this Tuesday (February 18).

All eligible voters who wish to vote in a location other than their permanent address must register to vote – regardless of whether they had already changed voting location for the January 18 local council election.

Registration deadline is February 28. Parliamentary polls are scheduled for March 22.

Voters will be required to put their fingerprints on registration forms as per the Supreme Court’s electoral guideline.


Elections Commission processes 20,000 forms, as thousands queue to re-register

The Elections Commission (EC) has processed 20,000 voter re-registration forms, and is still serving a queue of thousands of tickets taken before yesterday’s 4:30pm deadline.

65,000 people re-registered to vote ahead of the September 7 election, which was annulled last week by the Supreme Court. With little over a week remaining before the rescheduled October 19 vote, the court at midnight on October 10 ordered the EC to collect voter fingerprints and restart the entire re-registration process from scratch.

The announcement of a 24 hour deadline for registration saw hundreds of volunteers in political party outposts working right through the night of October 11 in an effort to re-register thousands of voters. The largest party, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) which obtained 45.45 percent of the popular vote in the annulled first round, said it had re-registered more than 33,000 people.

A system crash around 2:30pm Sunday afternoon due to the large volume of data saw the EC begin manually entering data to continue processing while the system was restarted. An official told Minivan News the problem was fixed two hours later at 4:30pm, however some people reportedly became upset as the manual process meant they were unable to be immediately issued with a confirmation slip. 2500 tickets remained at the time of the crash, the official noted.

Boisterous Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and its allied Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) supporters in the queue quickly accused the EC of attempting to rig the election, while soon after 7:00pm police had arrived at the EC’s registration building and begun removing people from the waiting area.

By 9:00pm police had deployed barricades outside separating the MDP and PPM supporters, while the Elections Commission had begun calling numbers again and was stamping temporary receipts, with official receipts to be provided on Tuesday.

Elections Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek told Minivan News on Friday evening that the EC had received threats that the voter registration section would be attacked, and that “people would throw stones at the windows and burn things there.”

“When we received that information we wrote to the police and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) requesting protection of our office. It’s very sad. There are a group of people who want to block this [vote], those who know they may not do well, so they are trying to buy time and make the election difficult. But I hope these things can be handled by the police and MNDF. The whole world is watching and wants this election,” he told Minivan News.

PPM presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen has meanwhile reportedly called on the EC to verify the fingerprints on all registration forms submitted, despite no organisation in the Maldives having the capacity to do this.

Foreign reporters to require business visas

The Immigration Department, which operates under the Ministry of Defence, has meanwhile declared that foreign reporters and camera crew must now apply for business visas and be vetted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Visiting journalists have previously entered the country on tourist visas, as business visas (costing MVR750/US$50 for three months) have required the sponsorship and collection of the visiting person from the airport by a local company or organisation.

“Up until now, we issue visas based on a list provided by the Elections (Commission). We cannot allow them to enter on a tourist visa and cover the election. We have communicated this to the relevant authorities,” Immigration Controller Dr Mohamed Ali told local media.

The procedure under which foreign media would be approved and sponsored was unclear, although Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mohamed Najeel suggested that this would be processed through the ministry.

‘Death threat’ phone lines suspended

The Communications Authority of the Maldives (CAM) has informed local media that it has suspended 15 phone numbers accused of issuing death threats against Elections Commission officials.

The death threats received by the EC’s permanent staff and polling station officials prompted the commission to file a report with police following the Supreme Court’s controversial suspension of the second round of polling, and subsequent annulment of the first round.

CAM CEO Ilyas Ahmed told local media that police had also filed cases regarding several numbers.

“We only take action if there’s a serious problem with a number, and after filing the case to the police. This is a criminal offence and there is a judicial procedure to be completed, so we’re filing them to the police,” he told Sun Online.


Supreme Court orders Elections Commission to restart re-registration process

The Supreme Court opened at midnight on Thursday to issue a ruling ordering the Elections Commission (EC) to restart the entire elections re-registration process.

“[The Supreme Court] orders the Elections Commission to start anew the process of compiling the voter registry and abide by the Supreme Court guidelines in the re-registration process for those who individuals who wish to vote in a location other than their place of domicile, and start anew re-registration process according to new procedures, disregarding previous re-registration,” read a verdict posted on the Supreme Court’s website.

The court also ordered the Elections Commission to give candidates the choice whether to stay on the ballot paper or withdraw from the election, contrary to the EC’s previous announcement.

“Elections Commission’s announcements (A) EA-2013/539 and (A) EA-2013/540 [concerning the re-registration process] contravene the guidelines put forth in the Supreme Court Verdict no 2013/SC-C/42,” read the ruling, signed by Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz.

“The Elections Commission must without further justifications proceed according to the guidelines put forth in the Supreme Court Verdict no 2013/SC-C/42,” the ruling stated.

The PPM today sought an order at the Supreme Court blocking Nasheed’s legitimacy to contest the election on the grounds of his criticising the judiciary and being “irreligious”, although this appeared to split the party, with State Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon declaring it was “not the right time”.

According to local media, the PPM also requested the court order the annulment of the voters’ list used in the first round on September 7, threatening that the party would not accept the result if the existing list was used. Prior to the first round, the PPM had called on the Elections Commission to make the voter registration process “more lenient”, requesting the EC not to reject voter registration forms missing details such as the name of a voter’s parents or a phone number, that could not be verified during random checks.

The 17 member Commonwealth election observation team in particular praised the final voter registry, describing it as “accurate and robust”.

“Fears expressed by some political parties regarding possible large numbers of deceased voters and voters registered in the wrong geographic area seem to be unfounded, based on the low incidence of election day complaints,” said the group’s head, former Prime Minister of Malta Dr Lawrence Gonzi.

The verdict

In its verdict on the Jumhooree Party’s case annulling the first round of the election, the court ordered the EC to hold an election by October 20, requiring the commission to prepare for polls as the government shuts down for the Eid al-Adha break.

The EC scheduled the election for Saturday October 19, sending the ballots for printing on October 9 and opening the list on October 10 for re-registration.

In a statement on October 9, Transparency Maldives noted that the Elections Commission had yet to receive the details of the Supreme Court verdict regarding the supposed discrepancies noted in the secret police report, between the voter registry and voting records (such as the claimed ID card number mismatches, permanent address mismatches, and name mismatches).

The Supreme Court’s majority ruling this week to annul the first round contradicted the positive assessments of more than a thousand local and international election observers, and hinged on a confidential police report submitted to the court claiming that 5623 votes were ineligible.

The report has not been made public and the legal counsel of the Elections Commission was never given the opportunity to present a counter argument.

In the majority verdict, Supreme Court Judge Dr Ahmed Abdulla Didi also declared that if a new president was unable to be sworn in on conclusion of the presidential term on November 11, the “principle of continuity of legitimate government would override any repercussions faced by failure to adhere to constitutional deadlines.”

The latest Supreme Court ruling follows a statement from UK Foreign Secretary William Hague stating that “It is imperative that there are no further delays and the elections be free, fair and inclusive, and that international observers are invited.”

“ It is important now that the democratic process proceeds in accordance with the Constitution,” Hague stated, calling on presidential candidates to respect the democratic process “and create conditions for free, fair elections.”

PPM MP Ahmed Nihan told Minivan News that he believed the latest order would mean additional delays to the voting, currently scheduled for October 19.

With growing international pressure for voting to take place without further delay, Nihan claimed that the party believed that the 24 hours for re-registration provided by the EC would have been a “disaster” for the election.

“Even here in Male’ no one was aware of what was going on [regarding re-registration],” he said, adding that the occasion of the Eid holidays had meant voters were expected to be more likely to want to vote on different islands from where they were registered: “I am sure it is important to let everyone else have the right to vote in free and fair elections. The verdict clearly says the EC has to perform within guidelines,” he said.

Nihan claimed the views of various international groups such as the UN and Commonwealth reflected the MDP’s stronger connections with foreign governments, whom he accused of believing the views of the opposition party without listening to others.

“The international community are champions of democracy and we have to thank them for efforts to spread it throughout all corners of the globe,” he said. “However, the EU and Commonwealth must make sure they are getting the proper and full information from all sides including the government and opposition as well.”
Meanwhile earlier today Sun Online reported that one of the five EC members, Ogaru Ibrahim Waheed, had suddenly resigned.

According to Sun no reason was given, although ongoing death threats received by the Elections Commission (EC)’s permanent staff and polling station officials have prompted the commission to file a report with the Maldives Police Service (MPS).


First round of new presidential election scheduled for October 19, with one day for re-registration

Additional reporting by Ahmed Nazeer

First-time voters, or eligible voters who wish to vote on Oct 19 somewhere other than their currently-registered location, must re-register.

Voter re-registration is open from 6:00pm-12:00am Wednesday Oct 9, and 9:00am-12:00am Thursday Oct 10. Forms are available at all island council offices, Addu City Council departments, diplomatic missions and at In Malé forms will be accepted at the Elections Commission’s registration center on Handhuvaree Hingun.

Check your registration by SMSing 1414 ‘VIS ID#’, or call the hotline on the same number.

With the Elections Commission (EC) rapidly preparing to re-hold the presidential election’s first round October 19 in accordance with the timetable established by the Supreme Court verdict, Maldivians will have only 15 hours for re-registration.

The Supreme Court late Monday night (October 7) annulled the first round of the Maldives presidential election in a 4:3 decision. Citing a secret police report on alleged electoral irregularities, the court ordered fresh elections by October 20 with enhanced police and government involvement.

The Supreme Court verdict was issued despite unanimous positive assessment of the polling by more than a thousand local and international election observers, while the police report on which it was supposedly based has not been made public and was not shown to the EC’s defence lawyers.

In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling, the EC has decided to hold the presidential election on October 19, the commission announced yesterday.

“The commission is concerned and regrets the inconvenience that people might have to face because the election is close to the Eid holidays,” the EC noted.

Meanwhile, the government is preparing to shut down from October 11 until October 19 for the Eid al-Adha holidays.

In order to have the elections in the duration given by the Supreme Court, the EC can provide only one day for re-registration, said the commission.

The EC has appealed to all citizens who wish to re-register to do it as soon as the re-registration process is opened, which the commission announced would begin this evening.

Maldivians can re-register to vote from 6:00pm to 12:00am today and 9:00am to 6:00pm tomorrow, EC Secretary General Asim Abdul Sattar told local media.

Individuals who do not re-register during the allotted period will remain registered to vote in the location finalised in the second round’s voter registration list, said Sattar.

The EC will be accepting grievances and complaints, however they will not be able to provide a specific window of time to do so, he noted.

According to normal procedure the EC is legally required to provide a time-frame for complaints to be lodged prior to the re-registration process, however the commission’s dates are restricted due to the Supreme Court’s verdict, he added.

Re-registration is necessary for those intending to vote at a polling station other than that listed with the Elections Commission, such as a worker based on a resort island or student in Male. Similarly, Maldivians residing abroad are also required to re-register in order to vote in the country of residence.

Presidential candidates

Presidential candidates who ran in the first round of polling September 7 will not be asked to re-file their candidacy and no new candidates will be allowed to compete in the election,  the EC Secretary General told local media.

Since presidential hopefuls cannot withdraw their candidacy, the order candidates will appear on the ballot paper will remain the same for the re-running of the first round.

“The candidates cannot withdraw their names once they are arranged [for the ballot paper],” said Sattar.

President Mohamed Waheed, who received 5.13 percent of votes in the September 7 election, has made no indication of a decision to change his participation in the re-run, Sattar noted. If President Waheed decides to recall his candidacy, the commission will make a decision after consulting with its legal department.

Waheed’s vice presidential running mate, Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, announced yesterday (October 8 ) that he intends to maintain his new alliance with the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) going into the re-scheduled presidential elections.

Thasmeen and his DRP announced their decision to support former President Mohamed Nasheed in the run-off, previously scheduled for September 28, days after Waheed received just five percent of the popular vote.

Repeat first round presidential candidates – in order of their ballot placement – are Gasim Ibrahim, Incumbent President Mohamed Waheed, Abdulla Yameen, and former President Mohamed Nasheed.

Election funds

The Finance Ministry had agreed to provide MVR 30 million (US$1,939,230) to hold the election, EC Secretary General Asim Abdul Sattar told local media.

The commission’s calculations show that it will cost MVR 30 million (US$1,939,230) to print ballot papers, pay the officials and cover other costs, said Sattar.

The Finance Ministry had also agreed to provide MVR 27 million (US$1,747,575) for a second round runoff, if necessary.

The ministry will provide funds for the election as legally mandated, but some state-funded programs will have to be sacrificed to do so, Minister of Finance and Treasury Abdulla Jihad said yesterday.


Preparations underway for second round of presidential election

Preparations are underway for the second round run-off of the presidential election scheduled for September 28.

Former President and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate Mohamed Nasheed, who placed first in the first round with 45.45 percent of the vote, will be facing off against runner up Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidate Abdulla Yameen who took 25.35 percent of the vote.

“There is so much work to be done before the second round, which is less than three weeks away,” EC Chair Fuwad Thowfeek told Minivan News.

“We are expecting a few additions [to the voter registry list]. Twenty people reported their names were missing from the list, so their names will be added [so they can vote in the second round],” he explained. “[Additionally], people who registered for the first round but have since died will be removed from the voter list.”

“Proof is needed in either case – house registration or ID card if their name was missing from the registry list or a death certificate if the person has since passed away,” he noted.

Amid concerns raised by the Jumhoree Party (JP) that local media had reported polling figures that did not reflect those of the Elections Commission during the vote counting – a discrepancy which led to a skirmish between police and JP officials outside the Dharubaruge convention centre early Sunday morning – Thowfeek explained steps the commission will take to prevent such an occurrence during the second round.

“We are making the process as transparent as possible – by publishing the data as early as possible and making sure media and everybody has access the results and election process,” said Thowfeek. “Many [observer] passes have been issued to the media.”

He also noted that the four day voter re-registration period will be Thursday (September 12) to Sunday (September 15), so individuals registered to vote in one location can change that location according to their needs.

“After the re-registration period the list will be published, printed, signed, and sent – like during the first round,” he added.

In the lead up to the second round, the EC will be open 8am-10pm daily, except for Friday’s when it will be open 2pm-10pm.


Voter re-registration exceeds expectations: EC

The number of voters re-registering to vote in locations other than their home islands has exceeded predictions, reports the Elections Commission (EC).

The EC said that by the closure of the August 8 deadline, 65,745 people had re-registered, surpassing original estimates of 65,000, “a great response”.

EC President Fuwad Thowfeek told local media 61,130 re-registrations had been completed, and was waiting to receive 3115 forms from resorts and political parties, and a further 1500 from the islands, but warned that incomplete or invalid forms could change the final tally.

The EC will publish the final voter registry on August 20.


No extension of August 7 voter re-registration deadline: Elections Commission

The Elections Commission has ruled out any extension of the August 7 deadline for voters to re-register at a polling station other than their permanent residence.

Re-registration is necessary for those intending to vote at a polling station other than that listed with the Elections Commission (EC), such as a worker based on a resort island or student in Male.
Registration can be easily checked using a national ID number and the EC’s 1414 SMS system (text 1414 in the format ‘VIS [National ID #]’.

Registration details can also be determined online for Maldivian nationals overseas.

According to the commission, 40,000 of the 65,000 voters expected to re-register have done so with just two days left for the remaining 25,000.

EC President Fuwad Thowfeek told local media the commission had received many requests to extend the deadline, but said the EC needed time to prepare the lists.

“Many re-registration forms will come in on the last day. That’s something we know from experience,” Thowfeek told Haveeru.

Minivan News reported last week reported low rates of re-registration among Maldivians overseas, with several polling stations such as the UK and Delhi in danger of not reaching the minimum 100 registrations needed for votes to be valid.

The EC has declared that 240,302 voters are eligible to vote in the upcoming presidential elections, 31,008 more than the number of eligible voters in the 2008 presidential elections (209,294). Voter turnout in the 2008 elections was 85 percent in the first round, and 86 percent in the second round.

Check the voter registry and registered place of voting

Download registration form (Dhivehi)

In the Maldives? Check your details via SMS

To check where/if you are registered to vote, SMS 1414 ‘VIS(space)(National ID#)’

To check political party registration, SMS 1414 ‘PPR(space)(National ID#)’

Elections Commission hotline: 1414


Registration for 2013 Dhiraagu Maldives Road Race to close June 9

Registration for the seventh annual Dhiraagu Maldives Road Race is to close on Sunday (June 9), with participants and NGOs being encouraged to use the event as a platform for fund raising.

The race, which will see participants running a single lap of the outskirts of Male’, is scheduled to start at 4:00pm on June 28 from the Raalhugandu area in the capital.

Organisers have said that runners will also compete for cash prizes during this years event, which is once again dedicated to raising awareness about child abuse prevention.

Other awards will be presented to the most successful school teams on the day, while special accolades will also be given for the fastest participants aged 45 and over.

An estimated 2,500 participants took part in last year’s race.

Participants can either register in person by submitting their registration form at Dhiraagu customer front offices or online at the event’s official website.


PPM files registration forms

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), headed by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, submitted registration forms to the Elections Commission today.

PPM interim council member Aishath Azima Shakoor told Haveeru that the commission would register the party within a week’s time.

The commission has a one-month period to formally register the party.

PPM held its registration meeting on Saturday at which it elected former President Gayoom as its interim President, rejecting no other applicants for the position.

The party also approved its constitution, manifesto, and palm-crescent logo with the official party color, magenta.